Strengthening Regional Sexual and Reproductive Rights Protections in Africa


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In Africa, several human rights instruments protect the human rights of women and girls including their sexual and reproductive rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights, through multi-faceted advocacy strategies such as thematic and shadow submissions and participation in technical working groups and briefings, works to ensure that the regional and sub-regional human rights mechanisms affirm State parties’ obligations to protect, respect and fulfill these rights. The Center further uses the regional human rights mechanisms’ complaint procedures to hold governments accountable to their obligations. These cases, in addition to their impact at the national level, will have far-reaching implications throughout the region since State parties have to comply with the standards set by these mechanisms.   

In 2014, the Center, along with the Dullah Omar Institute of the University of the Western Cape, Africa Alliance and the Women Advocate Research Center (WARDC), filed a case before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights against the Government of Nigeria for its failure to prevent the high incidence of maternal mortality. Despite being the richest country in Africa, Nigeria has one of the highest mortality rates in the world, and many of the causes are preventable. The case argues that the government has failed in its human rights obligation to address the financial, infrastructural, and institutional factors surrounding these deaths.

In 2019, the Center together with the Legal and Human Rights Center filed a case before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child against the United Republic of Tanzania challenging the practice of forced pregnancy testing in schools, the expulsion of pregnant and married girls from schools and the lack of a re-entry policy. The complaint urges the Committee to find that by supporting and implementing these practices, the government has violated girls’ rights to education, equality and non-discrimination, and the principle of the best interest of the child. The case further requests that the government implement measures to ensure access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services to address the high rate of unplanned and early pregnancies.

Feature Story: African Commission to Hear Case on Maternal Deaths Brought by the Center and Partners

Feature Story: Expulsion of Pregnant and Married Girls from School Must Stop